Isa Leshko

Creativity, 2016, Grantee Link >

Isa Leshko is a photographer and artist. She received a grant that funded a trip to Washington state in May 2016 to visit Pasado’s Safe Haven, and also paid for rolls of film and photo lab services (e.g., high resolution scans, digital darkroom alterations). The photos that Isa took were included in an artist talk she gave at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer School in July 2016. They were also featured in Allowed to Grow Old: Portrait of Elderly Rescued Farm Animals (University of Chicago Press, 2019). The book was selected by Buzzfeed as one of the best photography books of 2019, and was a coffee table book recommendation for The New York Times 2019 Holiday Gift Guide. Isa writes:

It is nothing short of a miracle to be in the presence of a farmed animal who has managed to reach old age. By depicting the beauty and dignity of farmed animals in their senior years, I ask viewers to reflect upon what is lost when these animals are slaughtered at a young age. With this work, I strive to depict the unique personality of each animal I photograph to demonstrate that farmed animals are emotional sentient beings. In the art world, animal-themed artwork (especially photographic art) is often dismissed as being too sentimental. Although there are numerous grants for photojournalism and documentary photography, most of these foundations only fund work with a humanitarian focus. Many high-profile portraiture competitions explicitly exclude animal-themed work. If you are an artist who creates portraits of non-human animals, finding funding for your work can be quite challenging.

You can learn more about this project and her work here, and read an extensive interview with her on Allowed to Grow Old here.

Isa was interviewed on the Our Hen House podcast (October 16, 2021).

For her work, we granted Isa the 2023 Nancy Regan Arts Prize.